Tiger ‘123’ of Heavy Panzer Regiment Bäke in beginning of 1944 on Eastern Front.
In January 1944, 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion, together with the II.Abt/Panzerregiment 23 and some infantry units, formed Panzer-Regiment Bäke(Schweres-Panzer-Regiment Bäke) under Oberst Dr. Franz Bäke.The regiment was to be used in “fire-brigade” duties in the southern sector of the Eastern front.
In January 1944, Bäke commanded his regiment during the battles for the Balabonowka pocket. During the five-day battle, Bäke’s regiment was credited with destroying 268 Soviet tanks for the loss of only four tanks .
Next, the regiment was sent to the area of Korsun-Cherkassy, where Gruppe Stemmermann had been encircled in the Cherkassy Pocket. Together with a Kampfgruppe of the 1.SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Bäke’s tanks opened a route of escape for the trapped Germans and held it open while many escaped. During this month, his regiment was credited with the destruction of 500 Soviet tanks and assault guns.
In late April 1944, the regiment was dissolved and the 503rd was sent West for rest and refitting while other components returned to their parent divisions.